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Community Lessons from Viva.nl

Through Rethinking Media (a Dutch site) I stumbled upon some excellent advice for community managers from Sanne Walvisch, who is the manager of ‘young women online' at Sanomo Publishers. The information was first published at Erwin Blom's blog (again, a Dutch site).

Unfortunately, all these links and the information is in Dutch. On the bright side, I happen to speak English as well as Dutch, so  I've translated the most important parts.

The advice Walvisch gives is based on her experience of managing Viva.nl's community. Viva is a magazine targeted at young women. Their online community consists of 60,000 members and attracts 20,000 unique visitors each day. Not a Mickey Mouse community by any means!

How did you attract people to your community?

Word of mouth, references on other sites, search engine optimisation, weekly cross medial references in print and shared navigation with other websites targeted at women.

How do you get people to participate?

Make sure the sign up procedure is easy, write interesting content, stimulate discussion and don't over think it.

How do you keep the community alive?

It's important to ensure quality, both on the content side as well as the performce/technical side. A riot every once in a while is great for spikes in page views and to give the community a boost. Thankfully we don't have to start these riots ourselves.

How important is community management?

Very. There is one community who professionally manages the community on a part time basis. The community manager is supported by 6 moderators who keep the site nice and tidy. They fulfill member requests and keep a keen eye on the community and take action where needed. They keep the community clean and safe. The rules are co created with the community members and moderators and are always up for review. The editorial staff keep an eye out too and try and get involved where and when possible.

What are the biggest mistakes you've made?

Hidden commercialism doesn't work. People see right through it and it will work against you. As a community manager it's extremely important to understand how much impact social media has on your members. You have to take your members seriously, even when they take something in a direction completely opposite of what you desire. Censorship does not work and can cause a snowball effect only worsening the situation.

Some excellent advice, which I wholeheartedly agree with. I already discussed some of these things in an earlier posted, so if you missed it you may want to check it out.

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